Alex Ribeiro, former Grand Prix racer and longstanding driver of the F1 Medical Car, is today celebrating his 64th birthday!
The Brazilian shot to prominence after convincingly winning the 1973 Brazilian Formula Ford championship, claiming five wins from his seven starts.
Like so many of his compatriots before and since, Alex moved to Europe to seek further success. He debuted in the European F3 championship claiming three round wins in a highly-impressive rookie season with the works GRD team.
After driving for March’s works F3 team in 1975, he moved with the constructor into its Formula 2 program the following year. Despite failing to win a race, he was consistently among the quickest in the field.
He raised enough funds to make his Grand Prix debut in a one-off appearance for Hesketh at the end of the year, before moving into a full-time campaign in 1977 with the works March outfit.
Sadly, it was a disastrous year. He racked up six successive failure to qualify in the mid-season and only saw the chequered flag on five occasions when he did make the grid. At the end of the year, he left the team, with both driver and team blaming the other for the year’s shortcomings.
A deeply religious man, Alex took it as the Lord’s work that he was without an F1 drive in 1977, and so he entered his own ‘Jesus Saves Racing’ March in the 1978 Formula 2 championship. He showed he’d lost none of his speed with an excellent win at the Nurburgring, but his year gradually tailed off.
He reappeared on the F1 grid in 1979 with the Fittipaldi team at the final two rounds of the championship, but he failed to qualify on both occasions.
Ribeiro subsequently went on to serve as Formula 1’s official chaplain, before taking on the role as the driver of F1’s medical car in the latter stages of the late Professor Sid Watkins’ tenure as the sport’s chief medical delegate.
Stemming from his work in the FIA Medical Car, Alex also features in one of our more recent ‘Top 10’ feature articles, which recalls one of his luckiest escapes – click on the banner below to read all about it:
|We look at the biggest course car failures in the history of motorsport!|
[Images via Corbis Images, Flickr, F1DB, F1-Facts, F1 Nostalgia, Laberezina, Tamiya Club, The Cahier Archive]
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